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Football Withdrawal Symptoms!

Joy. Sadness. Fear. Anxiety. Ecstasy. Love. Football brings out some of the most powerful emotions a human being can experience. How many times have you jumped for joy after seeing your boys pull off a shock win or sank down into your seat, distraught and disappointed, following a defeat? The highs and lows… It’s a drug, isn’t it? 

This time of year is the hardest for me, the hardest for any football fan. Especially in a year where there’s no World Cup and no European Championships to keep the football buzz going. Years such as this leave us feeling completely empty. 

Yes, we’ve got the silly season, where clubs are linked to this player and that player, where certain clubs look to buy every striker available and others strip their squad down to the bare bones. Yes, we’ve got the odd qualifier every now and again, an international friendly or two, and this year we’ve got the Confederations Cup, but it’s not really enough.
 
I don’t know about you, but I get real withdrawal symptoms from having to be without the Beautiful Game. Spending an evening watching re-runs of past games is all well and good, but it doesn’t match up to the excitement of watching a game live. 

For me, being in a stadium surrounded by likeminded people is one of the greatest feelings in the world. The roar of excitement from you and your team’s supporters when the ball hits the back of the opposition net or the collective groan when that ball crashes into the back of your team’s net, takes unity to another level. 

We’re all part of the football family. The players, the supporters, the owners, the agents and the soccer journalists all have one thing in common - we all love the game. We’re part of the biggest, most passionate family in the world! Football has given me some of the best and worst moments of my life, and I’m not sure there is another sport out there that has had the same collective impact on the world.

Football changes lives. Football can take the downtrodden and turn them into superstars. As a supporter, it can also brighten a rubbish day and take you through every possible emotion in the space of 90 minutes. 

I’ve done a lot of travelling for a lad my age. I grew up in Europe and also spent time in Africa, South America and Oceania while travelling, and there’s been one constant feature in my life the whole way through. Football.

Football brings joy wherever it is played.  In Manenberg, Cape Town, football helped me offer a brief respite to a group of teenagers struggling with gang violence. In Rio, Brazil, it played a part in giving a bunch of kids the chance to take a break from their lives in the favelas (shanty towns). In Peru I had a kick-about at nearly 8 000 feet above sea level with people whose language I couldn’t speak, yet I had an entire conversation with them in football. These memories will live with me forever.

After my first full season in the PSL, in which I’ve seen wonder goals left, right and centre, shock results week in and week out, and a string of coaches come and go, there is now a period of no competitive football and I’m missing the game.  
 
In the grand scheme of things, this short period is nothing, just a couple of months, but for us football fanatics it can seem like a lifetime.

I’ll keep myself occupied with transfer news, with speculation about who will be where at the start of next season’s PSL and next season’s English Premier League, and keep a close eye on matters at Hillsborough to see who’ll be joining or leaving my beloved Sheffield Wednesday. Yet, in truth, I think there will be a piece of all of us missing until that day, sometime in August, when the rollercoaster begins again.

Only then will we feel whole once more.

Yours in football, Joe
Soccer-Laduma journalist

Follow Joe on Twitter: @YesWeCrann

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